From 2008 to 2012, I taught a lecture course on the Vietnam War at Notre Dame, Cal State San Bernardino, and, regularly, UC Riverside. I returned to UCR to teach it again during Summer 2015.
At Pepperdine, I have taught it as directed study. Students interested in the course should contact me directly.
Although the course can be modified to highlight the American experience, it has generally taken on an international approach and an emphasis on Vietnamese perspectives and experiences. It usually begins with Vietnamese relations with China in antiquities and ends with the Third Indochina War and Vietnam’s policy of Renovation (đổi mới). In between are the following topics:
- Regionalization and national unification
- French colonialism
- Nationalism, modernization, and revolution
- Communism and anticommunism
- The First Indochina War and the Cold War
- Nation building in North and South Vietnam
- And of course American involvement in the Second Indochina War.
For purposes of discussion and exams, I also ask students to consider course materials according to the following seven theses:
- Vietnam had a love-hate relationship with China
- Vietnam absorbed and adapted from larger cultures
- Vietnamese waged defensive and offensive warfare
- Vietnamese fought plenty among themselves
- Vietnamese sought help from abroad
- Vietnam was defined by regionalism
- The rural village was a significant institution and a political problem for governments
Students are also exposed to the American perspective, especially between 1950-1975; and, to a lesser degree, Chinese, Soviet, and Southeast Asian experiences of the conflict.